United Nations (U.N.) findings released Monday warned that perhaps a million species are on the verge of extinction. Just as alarmingly, these extinctions could pose a risk to humanity itself. The loss of so many species, according to the U.N., could threaten our ability to obtain food, clean water, energy, and could also affect the global economy and human health.
Weighing in at roughly 1,500 pages, the report is being published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. Nearly 150 authors from 50 different nations contributed to the sweeping study. Further, 300 contributing authors helped assess the economic impact of the loss of so many species.
Numerous reports warning about mass extinction have been released over the years, usually to little effect. However, most reports have focused on the animals themselves. The most recent report stepped back to look at the effects on wider humanity.
The report cites increasing human consumption of natural resources (timber, land, and fisheries) as a key driver in the increase in extinctions. The report also warns that global warming could accelerate extinctions at an even faster clip. Many animals are struggling to adapt to the rapidly changing climate and weather conditions.
Researchers also concluded that unless countries rapidly change how they manage natural resources and address global warming, extinctions could rapidly increase by 2050. If this happens, human civilization, not just wild animals, could suffer greatly.
The United Nations is waiting to release the full report later this year. Representatives from the United States and 131 other countries have signed off on the conclusions. You can read the summary of the study’s key points. You can also review the World Wildlife Fund endangered species list.
(Note: Our cover photo is a Sumatran Tiger cub and a five-month-old Orangutan, both among the endangered species lists.)